May 14, 2007

Lost in translation

This weekend I decided to cut my school to-do list short and finish some things I should have already some time ago. With enthusiasm I opened the file - and felt how my energy is absorbed by the first sentence (I wouldn't dare to translate it into English:):

Oma paradigmaatilisel kujul on poliitiline kohustus igal legitiimsele poliitilisele autoriteedile legitiimselt alluval isikul või isikute rühmal lasuv kohus kuuletuda selle võimu legitiimsetele korraldustele.

Translating philosophical and scientific texts into Estonian is something to be grateful for.

Yes, I agree, I support.

But please - not directly from the other language, some "ABC of Estonian" would help to popularize the texts among students.

I'd end this posting with the very last sentence from the same text:
Et aga püsiks rahu, võib meil alati vabalt vaja minna Leviathanit - ja vaja minna lausa hädasti!

Golden words, golden words!

PS: If you need advice who you should NOT hire as your personal translator, ask for hints:)

May 12, 2007

Memories take over

I came yesterday to Saaremaa, the greatest place to be from (it's OK to say it also about Narva, Puka and Kõpu – but for me it's this special island). My parents are divorced, so only my dad, brother and cats Vasja and Valdo Kuubik are living in my childhood big house (Kuubik is the one, who would have died in Tartus winter unless brought here).

Often when I'm here I get the chance to rest and reflect, as the environment has this special calming effect on me. Even falling asleep in my old room, surrounded by my cheap, but valuable children book collection, pictures and poems on walls and diaries in the bookcase I feel connected with something I can't really describe.

Compared to my childhood days things have changed here. My dad is running a small company now and unlike being a farmer as 15 years ago it obviously means more spare money. My dad is from a very poor family, because living in a countryside at '50s and '60s in Estonia meant struggling for your everyday bread. After Estonia gained independence my parents tried to establish a eco-farm, but as ecologically pure food wasn't exactly a hit these days, it was a waste of time and resources.

I was raised in the spirit of valuing education and achievements from my mother side and humanity, spirituality and learning from my father. I never wondered too long over the question, if we have enough money or not, because material values weren't in a too high place in my world view (that before my late teenage years, where I protested heavily against many things, including having too little clothes and others things I felt I desperately needed). I was living as a normal city-girl (yes, 15 000 people in my hometown Kuressaare sounds more like a village to some, but for me it was always a normal town, though I wanted to escape to “free world” since I went to high school).

Now I see it's a bliss to be from a simple family. And always great to come to your roots, see how things change for better and feel happy for the ones who have given you your memories and if I'd want to be very sentimental, I'd also add "life". But this gets too philosophical, because defining "life" is beyond the act of being born and raised. I still have this feeling of gratitude then being here, which mixed with many other little positive pieces influence my ability to concentrate on school-work and other everyday hurries.

Actually I wanted to write about something totally different in the beginning, but ended up in a history trip. My topic today was: “How I cleaned the fridge”, because it was the most colorful event I've had in past days. I wanted to tell what happens to a household, when there is no woman living in it and it's totally left for guys. While I was cleaning the fridge, where I found food with best before date January 2007, expensive salmon gone bad and of course lot of fresh food, which was in such amounts, that no way two men are able to eat them before the best before has passed, I was thinking about womens role in Western society. I wondered if women maybe try to be too equal sometimes and resist of taking the role of the spirit of the household. And how wonderful it is sometimes just to be the simple cleaning lady and create order in chaos.

But I guess about gender roles and balancing your life in the future.

May 11, 2007

Games we play

Today I happened to be at one meeting where I didn’t know anybody too well. There were around 15 people, a person responsible for the meeting and one man, who was making a presentation. The topic isn’t important, but the fact is that he was a lousy speaker. Lot of pauses, no structure, repeating obvious facts, insincere, thoughts jumping from one place to another, so you could go mad by just trying to track one sentence.

As I had to be there, I was trying to concentrate and act politely. Yet my impatience was growing with every sentence, as I felt my time was being wasted and I gained no new information. So I looked out of the window, played with my fingers, observed other listeners and searched any other way of entertainment.

At one point I started to look more and more often at the person responsible for the meeting, growing agony naked in my eyes: “Please, lady, do something, end it!”. But as she had invited the speaker, she obviously felt more responsible and was listening with special care, asking additional questions and ignoring my and many others sufferings. Truly, I hadn’t felt a long time as when I was a child, sitting in church and listening to speech I don’t understand a word of and my parents have accidentally left my color pencils at home.

So I came to the stage where I was already playing fantasy games. I imagined how I would stand up and just sincerely express my feelings. I’m sure you’ve all played with thoughts you never really plan to realize. And suddenly I noticed the huge contrast between the thought-level and reality. All the people accepted the situation as it was and smiled. The lady and the speaker had a conversation like: “Yes, this is so relevant and informative what you are saying! I wish people like you would speak more often” and reply going in the same bureaucratic jargon: “I’m pleased and thrilled to be here. I’m sure you are all busy people and have your other obligations, but you took some time from your schedule to come here and contribute to this debate we are having.. etc etc”.

Suddenly everything seemed almost unreal as if it was a big play and we all were actors in it. Everyone knew their part is if someone had taught it to them.

You know children, the impolite creatures, they are always the ones who say improper things to strangers and make the parents feel uncomfortable. For example tell a neighbor, who has rang the door-bell, that mother can’t come, she is changing her sanitary towels in the bathroom (as happened to one woman I read from a magazine). Or ask: “Why does this uncle look so angry?” with a loud voice (which is just a common situation for any parent). Children don’t know that life is full of different games and you have to know the rules. So they are sincere and shock us, because we have forgotten, that there is world outside of the rules set by our environment.

Next time you spend time with a random group of people try to look the situation as if it was a play, where everyone have their part. If you are among your friends where people feel totally comfortable you probably meet some difficulties. But when you are in a situation, where people see each other the first time and the set is more formal, you most probably will be surprised (and have much of silent fun). I can imagine, that a person from a different cultural background (might even say, that from Estonian countryside, where etiquette is something different) would have felt very confused in my described meeting and wondered, why no-one says what they really think.

I don’t encourage now to set aside all the rules, games are part of the everyday communication and make our life easier. But I’m sure it’s possible to play these games in a more authentic way and even then meeting a important CEO or any other opinion leader, where the rules should be even more fixed, some out of the box sincerity doesn’t hurt. In fact – I think being human is always the best choice and desperately needed in the world, where people sometimes wear masks just because they’ve forgotten alternatives.

I’m glad we have children, though, to remind us the “ABC of being human”. Raw material, I admit, but better than crap already carved in stone.

May 4, 2007

See the beauty all around and in yourself

Yesterday morning I woke up covered with cold sweat. I made a few steps and almost fainted on the floor. It was quite unexpected to lie on the floor at 7AM and think: “Something is wrong with me. I’m not quite sure what, but seems so that not some ordinary sore throat.” Later in the hospital it turned out I had a bad tonsil infection and I had to be operated the same day.

It’s very easy to be happy and energetic in a situation you control. When it comes to your health you might get scared and lose much of your rational thinking. It might seem that you’ve lost everything you’ve learned by this point of your life and you are just defenseless against some powers stronger than you. I’m sure the first minute I wasn’t quite my usual me and if someone would have asked me how I feel, I would have replied with some empty complaining I usually deeply despise.

But when lying there and thinking through my logical next steps, the words of the PR-professor Kaja Tampere with whom I made an interview several months ago came to my head: “Success comes from the abundance of your experiences.”

She told me to experience different kind of things in life, this is the base of success and happiness.

Abundance of your experiences.

What if any kind of situation you ever get in is just a new learning experience? Unknown, yes, but not scary. What is the worst thing that could happen to you? You die? What if even death is just a new experience? I’ve always found comfort from the thought, that I won’t be sad about my unlived life after I’m gone, because I just don’t care then anymore. I better do my best when I’m still here, so I have nothing to be sad of when my time runs out.

These thoughts are again something much easier to think than to do, but aren’t our actions always first determined by our thoughts? If I don’t dream and imagine things bigger than I am right now, how could I ever reach there?

So I decided then not to get scared, after all – this in only a new experience. All the meanings come through our evaluations, life is very simple and natural, there are no judgments in it.

I became curious about the operation, about the general anesthesia, about other patients in the hospital room, even about the pain. I wondered if my relaxed mind will help me to recover quicker and if I will suffer more after the operation when I did the week before it. And I was curious to see if I lose my balance when it gets really painful and uncomfortable, how will I act and how will I overcome it.

I feel thankful for all kind of experiences. Of course I’m not especially looking for bad and painful things, neither do I justify doing purposely something illegal or harmful to yourself or others. But life is as it is and it sends you different kinds of experiences and sometimes the only thing you can choose is your reaction.

I feel as if I’m going from a learning to learning and get stronger in my journey. It very often frees me from anger and leaves me the right to observe the situation and leave a bit wiser. Whenever life offers me an opportunity to get mad, to feel as if I’m losing or as if I’m being judged or someone is unfair – I give my best to see in it a way to learn. Not always do I succeed and sometimes I feel overwhelmed of my emotions, but even in these moments I find the comfort from the thought: “The abundance of your experiences is what really matters.”

So it’s not about my tonsils operation, this is nothing. It’s about the parallel I can take with other situations I might get into. After all - all the feelings are similar, even if the cause is different. And being able to cope with some you are free to move to new, unknown fields or just to be able to act more wisely and bravely in the future.

I named my blog "Keep moving", it was a random key-word that came to my mind then, but it seems to make sense. I guess this is the main thing in life, to keep moving.

And in the end I want to share a song. I found it several days ago from youtube and got inspired to make a supporting ppt for it for AIESEC conference we have this weekend and that I sadly have to miss. I still have to figure out how to share youtube videos in my blog, it doesn't seem to work for me, but here is the link anyway:)